Apple, Google to Face Off in Key Smartphone Hearing

Apple Inc will try to salvage a high-profile lawsuit against Google Inc's Motorola Mobility unit on Wednesday at a crucial hearing in the smartphone patent wars between the two tech companies.

Federal Judge Richard Posner in Chicago will hear Apple argue why it should be able to seek an order barring the sale of some Motorola phones. Posner's decision could affect the iPhone maker's ability to negotiate favorable licensing agreements in its legal fights against Motorola and other competitors like Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Apple has waged an international patent war since 2010, part of its attempt to limit growth of Google's Android, the world's best-selling mobile operating platform. Opponents of Apple, meanwhile, say it is using patents too aggressively in its bid to stamp out the competition.

Motorola sued Apple in October 2010, a move widely seen as a preemptive strike. Apple filed its own claims against Motorola the same month.

Posner issued a series of pretrial rulings that eliminated nearly all of Motorola's patent claims against Apple, while maintaining more of Apple's claims against Motorola. That meant Apple had more to gain at the trial, which had been set to start last week.

However, earlier this month Posner canceled the trial, saying in a tentative ruling that neither side could prove damages. An injunction would be "contrary to the public interest," Posner wrote.

Yet last week Posner granted Apple's request for a hearing on a possible injunction, and ordered both sides to submit legal arguments in advance. Those documents were filed under seal on Monday.

Motorola may also ask for an injunction on the one patent in the case that it can still assert against Apple.

A clear victory in one of the U.S. legal cases could strengthen Apple's hand in negotiating cross-licensing deals, where companies agree to let each other use their patented technologies. Apple and Samsung are scheduled for trial July 30 in federal court in San Jose, California.

The Motorola case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, is Apple Inc and NeXT Software Inc v. Motorola Inc and Motorola Mobility Inc, 11-cv-8540.